“I used to be a full-time writer, working five days a week, earning $16,000 to $20,000 a year,” said former writer Zander Lurie, describing how he traditionally made his living as a novelist. “But then I quit full-time writing and made all of my income from freelancing.”
His money is flowing a lot more freely. Today, he’s become the founder of freelancing software startup Artichoke. His company, his creative outlet, is now, in theory, more than a hustle. As a freelancer, he makes more money than he would as a full-time employee, all while earning his freedom. It’s a free, lucrative lifestyle.
“It has given me great freedom, and an invaluable ability to refocus my time and energies toward my art, and the fulfillment that I find from doing so,” Lurie told Observer.
Lurie is among a wave of creatives who are consciously choosing to kickstart their careers through freelance work, often supported by their own savvy understanding of technology. In recent years, entrepreneurial communities have sprung up around the promise of life-long job freedom. Today, freelancers — including as many as 14 million in the United States alone — are, by all estimates, becoming the standard for entrepreneurship.
But just how is it changing our economy? Will more people be as compelled to cash in on freelance work as millennials were before the 2008 financial crisis? Will they be more successful?
“Freelancing is radically changing the workforce,” said Lewis Shuler, a senior research analyst at Catalyst, the digital economy think tank.
The effects are profound, but also humbling, Shuler explained. In the past, entrepreneurs would create new startups to profit from hardware innovation or consumer trend. Today, more and more entrepreneurs are starting and competing on the basis of social media platforms.
“The ability to experiment on social platforms has given rise to a multitude of freelancers,” Shuler told Observer.
Companies are also enabling the phenomenon by creating online platforms for freelancers to sell their services. For example, Curalate’s platform tells brands how many views to expect from their Instagram posts, so they can more directly buy influencer endorsement and generate revenue.
In the process, the world of freelancing is changing the financial base of the economy.
“Freelancing has become the new ‘good old days,’” Lurie said.